Madison’s new elementary school on the far west side will bear the name of Paul J. Olson, a beloved Madison teacher, principal and ardent conservationist, following a vote at Monday night’s School Board meeting.
Olson, who was born in Mount Horeb and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spent most of his life on crutches following a childhood bout with polio. He died in 1993 at age 84.
Three of Olson’s four children were at Monday’s meeting.
“The thing that always struck me most about my dad was his optimism. He believed in the art of the possible,” Tom Olson said following the meeting. He said his father’s focus on overcoming any obstacle was what he taught his students.
The younger Olson and his brother Jim attended the meeting with their sister, Karen Sullivan of Janesville. They noted their father loved the natural world and was a committed environmentalist, fisherman and outdoorsman. He enjoyed canoeing and navigated the Boundary Waters on crutches.